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‘It’s a sick society that auctions virginity’

Richa Chadha. Picture by Yogen Shah

Richa Chadha was unsure about taking up Love Sonia when the makers approached her. Human trafficking, she believes, can be a tricky subject. And she actually refused the film. Yet, she ended up doing it and, now, firmly stands by it. Richa gave The Woods rationale behind her decision. Excerpts 

The Woods: What got you to Love Sonia?

Richa: It was Tabrez (Noorani, Love Sonia director). I played the only role that I really liked in the script, in terms of her graph. I had initially turned it down as I was not sure how they would portray such as a sensitive topic. It was a foreign team and I did not know the people. I was apprehensive and turned it down. When I met Tabrez later, he said it was okay if I didn’t want to do it. He also told me why he really wanted to make the film and that convinced me.

What exactly was the concern?

 I had not initially got the script. When I got it, I realised it was a nice meaty part. Till then I was confused. A few years ago, there was another film on trafficking and prostitution that came to me and it was so gross that it would have made more rapists out of people. It was disgusting and I was scarred by that. I had to make sure this was a good one. It could have become titillating easily or gross! I was a little apprehensive as a woman. But when I met Tabrez I understood what his intentions were. I was very happy to be a part of this.

Have you always been observant of the flesh trade and how it works in the country? Or did you put in some research when you started working?

This film is more about the human trafficking than flesh trade — how women in India or other poor countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan go missing and often sold. This leads the girls to get trapped in the prostitution ring.

Was the story inspired by something that Tabrez saw personally?

I think he had a series of such cases. He was helping out with an NGO that worked to stop trafficking of girls and women. This is inspired from two-three cases he saw personally. And I have also met a lot of girls who have been victims of trafficking and rape and got sold into the trade. I met with them before the film and afterwards also. In fact, some of the biggest centres are at Sonagachi in Calcutta.

What was your takeaway from your meetings with these women?

It is a very sick society, one that sells children and auctions their virginity. Or sell off a girl who gets pregnant. You know relatives have sold girls — fathers, mothers have sold their kids out of poverty. No woman wants to do this willingly. All the sex workers that I met, none of them got into this trade willingly. They were either kidnapped or abducted. It is a form of modern-day slavery.

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